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Crawfish and Vacation Bible School season

by Bradly Gill | July 26, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

Well, I guess you might think I have slipped a gear and my brain is in neutral since I'm writing about crawfish and VBS.

Of course, you're probably from another planet if you have never heard of VBS, and you're sure not southern if you haven't peeled four or five pounds of crawfish to get a few ounces of tail-meat.

Yeah, but so what? I guess some things that are simple and yet so a part of our lives need to be recognized.

One of the Bible School workers could probably give a more first-hand experience report than I can, but let's plow ahead and see how El Dorado's First Baptist Church, for five days with, 185 kids in 6th grade and under, plus about 30 workers, managed to survive another Bible School. Then I'll tell you how Vertis and I dined on our once-a-year crawfish feast.

First VBS.

If VBS is not organized, chaos will just go off the charts, so first give a big hand to Director Andria Gleghorn, who spent hours planning and rounding up volunteers. If Baptist had Saints, then Andria would be on her way to Sainthood.

First Baptist sits on the corner of Main Street and North West Avenue, the two busiest roads in El Dorado. Now visualize nearly 200 cars all arriving at the church between 8 and 8:30 a.m., which is during rush hour, and that's just for starters. Yes, streets must be blocked off and volunteer traffic "cops" are posted to try and bring a little order to the area.

But then, when the kids are herded into the auditorium, the action starts when senior pastor Johnathan Kelly, dressed up as Indiana Jones, roars in to welcome the kids and a ten foot blue roadrunner costume containing Cindy Langston does a boogie down the aisle as the kids holler back.

They enter a church that has been changed into Monument Valley, decorated to the hilt. This year's theme was Celebrating God's Greatness and MONUMENTAL is everywhere. Yes, the sanctuary of our church had a massive Monument Valley poster covering the choir and baptistery, along with cacti and desert animal posters everywhere. All the kids had on coyote gray t-shirts and every worker had burnt orange t-shirts -- which initially brought back some negative thoughts of Texas to me because of their color.

Of course kids (and mothers) just love VBS, and no wonder. If you are a mother with three kids that are of age for VBS, passing them off for nearly three hours for five days in a row is enough for a lot of them to have a true spiritual experience.

For the kids it's church-lite, with all the exciting Bible parts and fun church songs, plus snacks and the opportunity to be with other kids and have fun. A good VBS will give the kids a good time while they get exposed to the Gospel. There is nothing wrong with having a good time singing, eating and playing while you learn about the Bible. I can tell you, from my experience at First Baptist Norphlet when I was ten years old that my bunch of friends looked forward to a break in the middle of a hot summer, which was thought of as pure fun.

Yes, a good VBS lets the kids have fun, but it is also a perfect time for the VBS teachers to weave in the Gospel in a way the kid can understand, and as every pastor will tell you, there are always professions of faith, or as the least a foundation on which a young person can build an understanding of what Christianity entails.

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Now to another rite of summer: Last Saturday afternoon we had our yearly crawfish tail peeling and turtle feeding at our house.

Vertis limits eating crawfish that you have to peel to once a year. I think after a year she forgets how much whining she did the year before.

Since we're only 15 miles from Louisiana, we're covered up with crawfish this time of year. I guess I can't blame Vertis, since you do have to put up with a lot to eat crawfish, but we make it a rather festive occasion.

Our spot to peel and eat crawfish is on our pergola deck, which is in our back yard. It's only about three feet from our backyard pond's edge. We crank up the Cajun music on our iPad and Bose speakers as we peel those crawfish tails, throwing the heads into the pond.

We listen to a couple of Cajun songs -- and in my opinion, they all sound the same; it sounds as if they are killing an accordion by beating it with a fiddle. Sometimes I think, if you go to heaven an angel is going to give you a golden harp, and if you go to hell the devil is going to hand you an accordion and tell you that you will be peeling crawfish for an eternity.

But that's not my real problem with eating crawfish. I'm a rather skinny guy, and I have a high metabolism, which lets my body digest the tiny crawfish tails faster than I can peel them. When we finish the five pounds, the first thing I usually say is, "What's for supper?" I think it is impossible for me to get full of crawfish. Yeah, they always throw in some potatoes and corn with the crawfish as stomach filler.

This year's crawfish were exceptionally large red ones; Louisiana Red Swamp Crawfish, they were called.

Vertis picked up a whopper and said, "This one looks like a small lobster."

Well, don't ever try to peel a real lobster with your fingernails, especially if you have just had them polished, because as I watched Vertis tackle the giant crawfish, there were some off color comments as she destroyed her recent nail job. Of course, your peeling thumb is going to hurt for a day or two, and your hands will smell longer than that.

Our daughter told us that you could get extra meat from the claws, and I tried one really big one. After about five minutes I managed to get a tiny sliver of meat half as big as your little finger nail, so forget the claws.

And no, I don't suck the heads and I de-vein the tails, which leaves very little to eat. Yes, I know those Cajuns south of us suck the heads, and wouldn't think of de-veining a crawfish tail.

Actually, our neighbor across the street sucks the crawfish head. His mother must have dropped him on his head when he was a baby. Well, he is from Mississippi, so I'm not surprised at anything they do.

Of course, since VBS always occurs in summer, right alongside crawfish-eating season, y'all could serve the kids crawfish when they have a snack break.

Let's see -- 200-plus kids and workers, and let's give them 2 pounds each.

Hmm... order 400 pounds of crawfish y'all.

Sound like a lot of fun for the kids, and I'll bet it would be a Vacation Bible School to remember. Just a suggestion...

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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